Thank you for the Christmas lesson


Originally published December 17, 2016 in the Suffolk News-Herald

By R.E. Spears III


I’ve been having a lot of trouble focusing on my work lately.

It’s a common problem for many during the holiday season, and many of the things that distract us all this time of year have done the same for me — Christmas shopping, holiday events, an ill-timed but needed vacation.

But a young man who runs an orphanage in Haiti has been the main distraction for me this year.

Last month, I made a quick trip to Montrouis, Haiti, on behalf of Supply and Multiply, a ministry my family supports in that community. During our four days there, I was able to deliver a small contribution to this man, who, along with his wife, runs an orphanage for about 15 children. Using the $200 we gave him, he bought a couple of pigs and two chickens and bought food for the children.

It seemed such a small donation, but the man’s gratitude for it was as clear as the pride he had in showing us the animals he had bought with the money.

Since then, I have regularly corresponded with him via Facebook. His humility and his love for the children he and his wife are raising are in stark contrast to the harsh conditions he works through each day.

Several times this week, I’ve been struck by the dissonance of my Facebook conversations with this man and the Christmas shopping I’ve been doing in adjacent tabs on my Internet browser.

Several times, I’ve had to tamp down the recognition of how different my day-to-day is here than the day-to-day of this friend who wonders how he will feed his young charges two meals a day this week.

I have never been so aware of how blessed I am to have the things I have, to live in the place where I live. I have never before been so overwhelmed by the recognition of the two different worlds in which my feet are planted.

As we celebrate the birth of the Christ who charged us to care for “the least of these,” this year I find myself thinking of the faces of 15 children and of the young man who is sacrificing so much to make sure they are fed.

Thank you, David Baptiste, and thank you, Haiti, for this Christmas lesson.

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